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This tech startup doesn't want to be like Google, Facebook

houm.me is essentially a service-led platform where a user owns digital space to store their digital assets safely and privately

Sonal Khetarpal   New Delhi     Last Updated: December 31, 2019  | 12:42 IST
This tech startup doesn't want to be like Google, Facebook
Houm.me essentially enables users to own their private domain name and server to access the internet privately

Internet has become the ubiquitous tool to get anything and everything done. But, ironically, it blurs the public and the private concept of space as we know in the offline world. All the actions, searches, conversations get saved and analysed upon by a handful of internet giants. Think Google, Microsoft, Facebook. It was to break this monopoly Bijai K Jayarajan (45) along with Priya Goenka (36) started Houm Technologies in 2018 to enable users own a piece of internet that they can call their own. Their product houm.me, tweak on the word home, is essentially a service-led platform where a user owns digital space to store their digital assets safely and privately.

For instance, Google and Facebook have access to personal pictures users save on their platforms, which the tech giants can use for their own purpose. This seemed unfair to the founders. "While the world is slowly waking up to the problem of privacy we believe that you can't solve privacy without solving ownership. The only way you can get privacy is by owning the data," says Jayarajan.

Bijai K Jayarajan

Houm.me essentially enables users to own their private domain name and server to access the internet privately. This enables users to take control of their data. Think of it like having Amazon Web services for users to help them access internet privately and securely.

Currently, 13,500 users have tested the beta version of houm.me where they used it as a digital locker to store digital assets such as documents, financial files and photos. By January 2020, the firm will launch 25 apps that will enable functionalities like messaging and calls, with individuals and groups that will enable users to communicate privately. The Singapore-based firm also has a technology development centre in India and another subsidiary in the US.  Jayarajan claims that no one else in the world has a similar product.

It is a subscription-based service where users get monthly plans with 100 GB data for $4.99, which includes domain cost, server and applications. Every additional 50 GB costs $0.99 cents. Jayarajan says they offer ready-to-use product for non-techies who don't know software programming and care about privacy on the internet.

While it is a global product, they will first launch in New Zealand in January 2020, followed by the US and Europe. The plan is to reach 50 countries in the next two years.

They will eventually launch in India but "the focus is currently on advanced markets as digital maturity is higher," he says.

The company is currently bootstrapped. Its two founders have made personal investment of $3.5million in the firm. The duo had earlier sold their first venture rewards program management company Loylty Rewardz to Mumbai-based online payment gateway company BillDesk for $100 million.

"Only if we reach 2 billion digital homes, we can reconstitute the internet and take ownership back of the internet to the people," Jayarajan reasserts the company's vision.

Also read: Personal Data Protection Bill 2019: Unrestrained power to central government may undermine privacy

Also read: How Microfinance sector can leverage Big Data analytics for financial inclusion

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